Each week more and more counties across Washington State move forward with their reopening process, progressing through our “Safe Start” program. This is happening because community members like you and me are practicing physical distancing, wearing masks, and consistently washing our hands.
It is up to each of us, every day, to do our part and protect our communities from any further spread of COVID-19.
Here in the 40th LD, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom counties are all currently in Phase 2 of the “Safe Start” program. While San Juan County was eligible to request a move into Phase 3, Public Health Officer Doctor Frank James opted to delay that request another week.
Ensuring that reopening our counties is done in a safe and responsible way is always the top priority, and that’s exactly what Doctor James has in mind as he has assessed the situation. He’s recommending that the county wait until June 24 to request moving into Phase 3.
Together we will progress into Phase 3, Phase 4, and beyond. Doing so carefully, with every consideration taken into account, will ensure that our communities stay healthy and we never need to move backwards.
Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday.
“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy”
Rep. Debra Lekanoff
Thinking About Our History On Juneteenth
Across the country we are seeing an incredible movement, led by our black brothers and sisters and supported by a diverse coalition of allies, calling for long overdue justice, equality, and respect.
This is a truly historic period that we are living through, for so many reasons. Today in particular marks the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when the final enslaved people in the United States were freed by Union soldiers.
Long oppressed people are standing up from coast to coast and demanding their voices be heard, making it known that they will no longer tolerate the injustices that have impacted their communities for generations.
This is a battle we have been fighting since Juneteenth in 1865, and long before that. As the only Native American in the entire Washington State legislature, I embrace my role to ensure we address diversity and equality in our policies and laws.
As we consider a special session this summer, and look forward to 2021 and beyond, I will never stop working and fighting for you, our oppressed and disenfranchised communities, and equality for everyone.
In what Texas city were the final enslaved people freed on this day in 1865?
Honoring Billy Frank Jr.
As we see long standing monuments to Confederate soldiers and historical figures like Christopher Columbus removed in cities around the United States, we are also seeing a tremendous opportunity to commemorate and celebrate individuals who have not received the recognition they deserve.
In recent months, I have worked closely with a number of my colleagues from the legislature and tribes on legislation that would replace Washington State’s statue of Marcus Whitman at the National Statuary Hall in the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. with a statue of Billy Frank Jr.
Billy Frank Jr. embodied the spirit of Washington State in so many ways, working his entire life for the causes of equality, justice, and protecting the environment. Through his fight to protect tribal treaty rights, he also worked to protect the natural resources that so many cultures are based upon.
We all owe Billy Frank Jr. our deep thanks for his work in protecting our salmon and helping their recovery efforts across the state. Billy understood that salmon don’t see political parties, that their health and success are incredibly important to all of Washington State.
Our state legislature and Governor still must approve this legislation, but it is my hope that we can immortalize Billy Frank Jr. in our nation’s Capitol and give his memory the recognition it so deserves.
Hearing From Local Education Experts
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to co-host a virtual roundtable on COVID and Education with Representative Dave Paul from the 10th LD and Vice Chair of the Education Committee. We had a number of my colleagues in the legislature, Representative Sharon Santos from the 37th LD, Chair of the Education Committee, Representative Lauri Dolan from the 22nd LD, Vice Chair of the Education Committee, and Representative Monica Stonier from the 49th LD, Majority Floor Leader. Representative Dave Paul and I share 19 school districts between the 40th and 10th LDs, and we were honored to have 75% of the superintendents meet with us.
We wanted to hear from the community experts who have boots on the ground to discuss the impacts COVID-19 has had on our K-12 education system. This was a great chance to hear directly what the needs of our school districts are, and what policy action can be taken on a state level.
As we look to the fall with OSPI’s “Reopening Washington Schools 2020 District Planning Guide,” it’s important that we move forward with an understanding of how unique this situation is. Changes and accommodations will need to be made, and policies surrounding student attendance and the number of required days of instruction must be flexible as our school year takes shape.
We are moving into uncharted territory as we find the best ways to provide quality education to our children and students. I left the meeting this week feeling uplifted and confident. With so many incredible people working to reopen our schools in the best way possible, I know that we will succeed, and we will do this right.
On a personal note, I want to send a deep appreciation to Anacortes Superintendant Mark Wenzel. Mark has been a leader in our district on all education matters, and I often turn to him for guidance on legislative matters. He is a compassionate man with strong leadership skills that always reflect the best future our all students and families.
Join me on Facebook Live for Tele-Tuesday with Debra and local experts and leaders!
As a way to virtually stay connected with community, we’re hosting Tele-Tuesdays to discuss issues that are at the top of all of our minds.
On Tuesday, June 30 at 3PM I’ll be sitting down to discuss education with local experts, leaders, and all of you!
So bring your questions and we’ll “see” you on Facebook Live!
Making The Difficult Decisions
While the state has been moving through the “Safe Start” program to reopen our businesses and economy, we are still feeling the financial effects of COVID-19. A few days ago, Governor Inslee announced that he was cancelling a scheduled 3% general wage increase for many of the state’s highest-paid general government employees – nearly 5,600 general government employees.
Additionally, starting no later than June 28, more than 40,000 state employees will be required to take one furlough day per week through July 25. After July, employees will be required to take one furlough day per month at least through the fall.
Governor Inslee has done a tremendous job leading us through this COVID-19 pandemic, and I am confident that he will see us through to be stronger on the other side. These types of decisions are never easy, and my heart goes out to those whose futures will be impacted.
The situation we are currently facing every day is unlike any other in recent memory. We all must make necessary sacrifices for the benefit of our state, our country, and our planet. Together we will look back on COVID-19, and thrive as we move into the future.
Historic Supreme Court Decision
This past Monday the Supreme Court handed down a monumental decision that supports and affirms our nation’s LGBTQ+ and two-spirit individuals.
In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court made it clear that under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, gay, lesbian, and transgender employees cannot be disciplined, fired, or turned down from a job based on their sexual orientation.
This is a great triumph on the side of justice and equality, and it says loud and clear that homophobia and discrimination based on who you love will not be tolerated. The Supreme Court decision comes from the hard work and dedication of so many across the country, and I, along with so many others, am eternally grateful for everyone who fights on the side of justice.
Right here in Washington State, the Washington State Stonewall Democrats have worked incredibly hard in training candidates and advocating for policies that positively impact the LGBTQ+ community across the state. They are an inspiring organization, and I am so grateful for the work they have done, and for their endorsement in my re-election campaign!
Endorsements & Events!
This coming Monday I am thrilled to be cohosting a virtual fundraiser for Beth Doglio’s congressional campaign! Beth is currently running for Congress in our 10th District.
Representative Doglio currently serves in the State House with me, representing the 22nd LD since 2017. I have always counted her as a dear friend and ally, working hand in hand on protecting our environment and helping our great state.
Beth will be a tremendous voice in Congress for the people of Washington, and I am proud to cohost her fundraiser this Monday! Learn more about Beth’s campaign here.
Finally, I am thrilled to endorse Suzanne Woodward in her campaign to join me in Olympia and represent the 10th LD. She shares my commitment to bringing our community together, and she will be a welcome voice at the kitchen table as we sit down and move Washington forward to the benefit of all. Learn more about Suzanne’s campaign here.
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene remains a tireless advocate in Congress for Washington’s 1st district since her first election in 2012. She is a consistent and clear voice in Washington, D.C. that puts people first. It is an honor to have earned her endorsement for my re-election campaign, and I am proud to endorse her as she seeks a fifth term in Congress this fall. Learn more about Suzan’s campaign here.
Individual endorsements are an incredibly important part of my campaign. You can put your name next to mine and support my re-election by heading over to my website and filling out this form. These endorsements mean so much to me – they show that this is a campaign focused on people, and I would be honored to have your name added along with mine.
Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 and freed the last enslaved people in the United States.